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Press Release, 03/12/2014: New report from Start Strong calls for professionalisation of ‘childcare’ sector

New report shows more public investment needed to ensure high quality care and education for our young children 

'Childcare'; Business or Profession?Dublin December 3rd - Early years services need to be seen as providing a public service, not as private businesses.

That’s according to a new report from Start Strong – a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland. 

“Currently early years services are run on a market model with services expected to operate as businesses. This is not in the best interests of children, as the quality of services is very variable. And it results in fees that are unaffordable to parents” says Ciairín de Buis, Director of Start Strong.

“To change this we need to recognise that early years services are providing a public service and should be funded accordingly.”

Report

Ms de Buis was speaking at a conference in Dublin today [Wed Dec 3rd] called, ‘Childcare’: Business or Profession?

A new report launched on the day has concluded that much greater levels of direct public investment are needed to ensure high quality early year care and education for all children. The report compared the Irish market for ‘childcare’ to other countries with market provision and was written by Professors Helen Penn and Eva Lloyd from the International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare, at the University of East London.

In his opening address at the conference, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Dr James ReilIy T.D. noted that "investment in the early years is well-demonstrated to have the most profound impact on outcomes for children – but only where the services provided are of high quality. Therefore, improving the quality of childcare services is something we as stakeholders should all be committed to - whether it is as members of Government, members of childcare organisations, as service providers, childcare professionals or as parents."

Quality

Ireland invests just 0.2 per cent of GDP in early year care and education, which compares poorly to the OECD average of 0.7 per cent. Internationally, 1 per cent of GDP is recommended by UNICEF to achieve quality early childhood services. 

Ms Ciairín de Buis said, “While there are many excellent crèches and pre-schools, we also know from the RTE investigation, A Breach of Trust that the quality of early years care and education here is variable. No child should be in a poor quality service. We need public investment in our pre-school children, not just once they reach school going age."

Profession

“Unlike teachers, those working in early years aren’t always seen as professionals even though their contribution to children’s development can be just as profound” said de Buis. “For ‘childcare’ to be recognised as a profession early years educators must have the qualifications, wages and working conditions and career development pathways – as well as the public esteem – that characterise a profession” added Ms De Buis. 

The Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan T.D. is expected to attend the conference in the afternoon.

/Ends/ 

For more information please contact
Ms Tressan McCambridge 087 295 9344 or Ms Ciairín de Buis 087 1207 103

Note to editor 

• Start Strong is a coalition of organisations and individuals seeking to advance children’s early care and education in Ireland. www.startstrong.ie Follow us on twitter @StartStrongIrl Like us on Facebook facebook.com/StartStrongIreland

• Start Strong is hosting a conference, 'Childcare': Business or Profession? on Wednesday December 3rd in the Royal College of Physicians, 6 Kildare St, Dublin 2 from 9.00am to 4pm.

• Early year care and education means the care and education of children in their early years, from their first months to the compulsory school starting-age of 6 years old.

• The new report from Start Strong, ‘Childcare’: Business or Profession? includes a research paper “How can the Government ensure that early care and education is of high quality in a market system? Learning from international experience” by Professor Helen Penn and Professor Eva Lloyd from the International Centre for the Study of the Mixed Economy of Childcare, University of London.

• Speaking in the Dáil on 29 May 2013, the day after the Prime Time investigation, A Breach of Trust, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, "Child care is a profession.... I do not like to see this referred to as a business, a sector or an industry. Unfortunately for some, that is what it has turned into."

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